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The Longest Journey

The Longest Journey is one of the best adventure games in years. Like a hybrid of classic Sierra and LucasArts games, it tells a great fairy tale filled with characters that you'll remember long after the game is over. The Longest Journey is about a young woman named April Ryan, a visual-arts student who lives at a boarding house in a small, bohemian area in the city of Newport called Venice. While these locations suggest Southern California, the geographical setting of The Longest Journey is never stated; it's just a large city of the future. And while The Longest Journey's setting may be the stuff of science-fiction clichés, the game never resorts to the typical dystopian predictions. In fact, Newport seems very much like a modern metropolis, only with flying cars.

click to enlargeApril has some problems. She's a runaway who has left home because of her father, though the exact reasons she left are never stated. She has a huge art project due, and she can't seem to get started. The guy who lives across the hall is a crude, arrogant jackass who won't leave her alone. And most importantly, she's being plagued by strange dreams that seem a little too real. The game begins in one of these dreams. April is standing high on a cliff, overlooking a strange land. On this cliff, she meets a dragon and a talking tree, and she is visited by a strange, malevolent mass that sends her careening over the edge - and back into her bed.

click to enlargeWhen she awakes, you begin to learn about her life. If there's one problem with The Longest Journey, it's that the opening is a bit slow. It's loaded with expository dialogue about April, her friends, and the city. While this isn't a problem in and of itself, it seems strange that there is so much exposition right off the bat, when you've yet to meet any of the characters or visit the places mentioned. These conversations would have been much more interesting had they come a bit later in the game, once you've actually familiarized yourself with the places and characters you learn about.

click to enlargeDuring the first chapters of the game, you explore April's life. You meet her friends, you go to her school and to her job at a local coffee house. It seems like boring stuff, but it accomplishes an important task - as you take part in her routine, you begin to really care about her and her comrades. Her friends all have the hallmark concerns of people making the transition to adulthood - school problems, turbulent love lives, and bad jobs.



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